It has almost been a month and I finally started school. On the 12th I had my first day, I was welcomed by an overwhelming amount of girls and they hugged and greeted me. Here in Zimbabwe everyone you meet will hug you so it has taken some time to get used to. The school I am attending is a all girls Catholic school called Dominican Convent, Here I have sister s as teachers but also males. On the first day I was so overwhelmed by the newness of it all and I have felt aspects of culture shock before but that day for me was difficult because I had no idea what I was feeling. I still am experiencing culture shock at school but it is slowly getting better. I am starting to catch onto peoples names and get familiar with my classes. In Zimbabwe there are six years of Highschool. There is form through form six and here I am a form five but in January I will be going up to form six. The girls will take up to ten classes until form four and then they will narrow it down into 3 classes a week somedays they won't even have classes but they will be required to come so most of them just sleep. I arranged with the school for me to take 6 subjects so that I can meet my requirements from back in the US. School here is completely different from my old school in the US, although it is no the most desirable school here it has really opened my eyes to the life in Zim. We have to wear uniforms and at lunch and at break we have to wear school hats or else we will be fined and given work duty. There are lots of rules here that seem so strange to me but they are so commonly known here. At school we have to all walk in single file everywhere we go and can talk in a childish manner. When we are around teachers we talk of school only, we also are not allowed to bring our cell phone to school or they will be taken and we will have to pay fines and do work duty. We do not have relationships with our teacher like I would normally have with my Animas teachers. There are lots and lots of rules that seem so strange to me and which have made me really realize how much I love my school in the US. Apart from the differences this has been one of the most cultural experiences I have had so far. Everyone here is incredibly intelligent and friendly. Its quite funny because I have been asked some of the most ridiculous questions including
"Is school like High School Musical, Do you guys sing?"
"Is your school like mean girls?"
"Do you even have to wear clothes to school?"
"Do you eat Mcdonalds daily?"
"Why don’t you sound American?"
"Why don’t you wear those big sun hats?" (cow boy hats)
"Is Texas even real?"
"Are plane tickets free?"
It has been funny to hear the perception of the US from kids here but every time I get asked about highschool musical its hard not to laugh. Being asked these questions has opened my eyes to the importance of exchange. Kids thought I would be obese and rude and I would be a mean girl but as they has met me they have told me I am not what they would have expected. A lot of people tell me that they swear I am not American and this is the most important thing for me to respond to them about. Exchange is about opening peoples eyes to the truth about the countries we have stereotyped our whole lives. It gets rid of all of you previously presumed thoughts and views of the cultures around the world, it incredible to see kids amazed when they heard my voice and that I don't sounds country like. It has been a very different month for me and it has been very challenging to stay motivated to find positivity but I am learning that each day I gain more perspective and knowledge that will stay with me for the rest of my life.